September 24, 2020

CAPITOL HILL BAPTIST CHURCH SUES DC MAYOR, GOVERNMENT: It’s tough to survive as a congregation when government officials bar any worship gatherings of 100 or more people, regardless if they are indoors or outdoors.

That’s why the 850-member Capitol Hill Baptist Church (CHBC) is suing Mayor Muriel Bowser and the District of Columbia government. Church leaders told the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that for CHBC there is no theologically acceptable alternative to meeting together in person for fellowship and worship. Thus, the church has no virtual meeting capacity.

This suit could prove to be much more significant than at first glance it might appear because the D.C. government is the creation of Congress, which is itself explicitly barred by the First Amendment from prescribing what is acceptable worship practice and what is not.

There is also an element of basic hypocrisy, as the church pointed out in its filing:

“Defendants have been discriminatory in their application of the ban on large scale gatherings. For example, on June 6, 2020, Mayor Bowser appeared personally at an outdoor gathering of tens of thousands of people at the corner of 16th and H Streets, NW and delivered a speech describing the large gathering as ‘wonderful to see.’”

The church is represented by the First Liberty Institute of Plano, Texas, which has successfully defended multiple individuals and congregations that have tangled with authorities as a result of Covid-19 enforcement policies.

 

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